Survey finds 22% of consumers replace OTC, prescription drugs with CBD

Since passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD has risen to the forefront of American consciousness as an alternative health and wellness supplement, and research finds that a growing number of consumers are using it to replace their prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

A national January 2019 Consumer Reports survey of more than 4,000 CBD users across the country found that nearly a quarter used CBD to replace OTC drugs such as Tylenol and prescription drugs, including opioids, anti-anxiety medications and sleep aids.

Approximately half of survey respondents who took CBD weren’t taking medication when they started using CBD, while 30% used it to supplement their regular medications.

The remaining 22% of consumers used CBD to replace their medications entirely.

The survey results were presented by Consumer Reports Deputy Editor Lisa Gill at a public hearing held by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in late May.

The hearing was part of the organization’s efforts to gain understanding about the safety, manufacturing, product quality, marketing, labeling and sale of products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds, including CBD.

The FDA has extended the public comment period to obtain scientific data and information until July 16.

Here’s what else you need to know about the survey:

  • Consumers said they purchase CBD from cannabis dispensaries (40% of survey respondents), a retail store (34%), online retailers (27%) and other unspecified outlets (12%).
  • The most popular forms were infused edibles, including both food and beverages (35%), drops or sprays (30%) and vaping devices (30%).
  • The survey found differences in CBD use among millennials and baby boomers, with millennials more likely to use CBD to reduce stress and anxiety (32% of millennial respondents versus 12% of baby boomers), with boomers more likely to use CBD to help with joint pain (42% versus 15%).

Maggie Cowee can be reached at